Kuwait fire tragedy: Punjab man who died was sole breadwinner of family - Hindustan Times
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Kuwait fire tragedy: Punjab man who died was sole breadwinner of family

ByPress Trust of India
Jun 14, 2024 05:35 PM IST

Hoshiarpur native had gone to Kuwait three decades ago, worked as foreman in fabrication department of private firm; body being brought back

Himmat Rai, 62, a native of Hoshiarpur, who was among those killed in the devastating fire in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf, was the sole breadwinner of his family.

Himmat Rai from Hoshiarpur was among the 45 Indians killed in the devastating fire in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf on June 12. He had been in Kuwait for about 30 years and had been working as a foreman in the fabrication department of the NBTC firm. (HT file photo)
Himmat Rai from Hoshiarpur was among the 45 Indians killed in the devastating fire in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf on June 12. He had been in Kuwait for about 30 years and had been working as a foreman in the fabrication department of the NBTC firm. (HT file photo)

Rai, who is survived by his wife Sarabjit Kaur, two married daughters Amandeep Kaur, 35, and Sumandeep Kaur, 32, and 16-year-old son Arshdeep Singh, had gone to Kuwait about 30 years ago and had been working as a foreman in the fabrication department of the NBTC firm.

The family, which shifted from its native Salempur village to Kakkon, a suburb of Hoshiarpur where they built a house in 2012, is in a state of shock.

On Thursday, Arshdeep, who is a Class 10 student at Government School, Baghpur, received a call from one of Rai’s colleagues, informing him of his father’s death in the blaze. The family could not believe the news and immediately contacted a relative working in the same company in Kuwait to check on Rai’s well-being. Their relative informed them that Rai had been admitted to the emergency room in a hospital but later confirmed his death.

Rai had visited home last year and stayed for around two months before returning to Kuwait. He last spoke to his family on Tuesday.

Though Rai did not discuss his earnings with his family, he provided whatever money the family needed to meet their expenses, his wife said. “He was the sole breadwinner,” she said.

Cramped conditions

At least 49 people were killed in the fire in the Al-Mangaf building in southern Mangaf on June 12 and a majority of them were Indians; the remaining were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepal nationals.

The building housed around 195 migrant workers.

Rai’s younger daughter, Sumandeep, said that the area where her father lived was cramped. She said her father had told her that he did his daily exercises sitting on the stairs.

Earlier, he had mentioned that the living conditions in the building in Kuwait were fine, but recently rooms in the building had been partitioned, making the area cramped.

The family has no information about any assistance being provided to the victims’ families by NBTC in Kuwait.

Hoping for help

They said they remain hopeful that the government and the company in Kuwait will provide help to meet their living expenses.

Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner Komal Mittal on Friday said that officials from the administration have gone to Delhi to receive Rai’s body. “Every type of assistance will be provided to Rai’s family as directed by the government,” she said.

Two of the family’s relatives have also gone to Delhi to receive the body, which is expected to arrive on Friday evening.

The cremation will take place on Saturday, Sumandeep said.

An Indian Air Force (IAF) flight carrying the mortal remains of the Indians who died in the fire in Kuwait two days ago, landed at the airport at Kochi on Friday.

India had on Thursday night sent a military transport aircraft to Kuwait to bring back the mortal remains of the 49 Indians killed in the fire.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced an ex gratia relief of 2 lakh to the kin of each victim.

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